it's a busy time for Walsh
Katie becomes first female rider to win Kerry National
Katie Walsh added another prestigious race to her ever swelling portfolio yesterday afternoon when she became the first female rider to win the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel.
The Herald columnist was riding the James Nash-trained Your Busy, who initially missed the cut for the race by one and was first reserve until yesterday morning when the Dessie Hughes-trained Golden Wonder was withdrawn, leaving the way for the 11-year-old to take his chance.
The winning pair had to overcome a scare at the very first fence of the three-miler when Walsh and Your Busy were lucky to keep the partnership intact after a mistake when disputing the lead. He regained his rhythm over the next couple of fences and Your Busy returned to the front where he stayed for most of the race and held off the challenge of Pass The Hat by half a length.
"I thought it was all over at the first fence," Walsh admitted. "He completely missed it and he was very lucky to stand up, but he did.
"The winning of the race for me was being able to get him back in front going past the stands and as soon as I got him back in front he was able to fill himself with confidence.
"His jumping was a bit hit and miss in places and after the fence past the stands I said: 'Your Busy, you are going to have to get your act together' but when I really wanted him, the better he was, and he winged the last two fences when I needed him to."
Your Busy was one of the first horses to be in James Nash's yard when he took out his own training licence, having been bought as a five-year-old by his father, and it was a seventh but undoubtedly biggest win for the 11-year-old, who used to be owned by Ronan O'Gara.
"He's around the place since I started training and is after being very good to us and Katie got a great tune out of him," Nash said afterwards.
"He was only broken as a five-year-old, so although he is an 11-year-old and been around a bit there are plenty more horses with more mileage on the clock."
The winning rider was delighted to ride a big winner for Nash who she has a long association with going back to their time together in Willie Mullins'.
"To ride any winner for Willie or for Dad is great, but next would be Nash as I've known him a long time and he has always been very good to me. I have been very fortunate to do a lot of things that I would have never thought were possible and this is another one.
"It has to be right up there with my two winners at Cheltenham and the Prix La Barka on Thousand Stars. I walked the track here yesterday and I was hopeful that something would come out because not every jumping horse would want it as quick and, thankfully, something did."
It was the third consecutive year that the Guinness Kerry National was won by a reserve.
Meanwhile, also at Listowel yesterday, Pat Smullen closed in on his first ever 100 when winning the listed Edmund & Josie Whelan Memorial Stakes on the Dermot Weld trained Vintage Nouveau.
The Moyglare Stud-owned daughter of Montjeu was always handy with Smullen and quickened well to the line to hold the closing Tarana by half a length.
"She is an improving filly and I think if she stays in training next year there could be nice races to be won with her," Smullen said afterwards.
Owner JP McManus enjoyed a double on the card courtesy of the Michael Hourigan-trained Hash Brown who was only purchased by McManus following declarations, and also the Aidan O'Brien-trained Egyptian Warrior.
The concluding bumper was won by the Jessica Harrington-trained Sandymount Duke, a 40/1 winner, who was ridden by her daughter Kate in the famous colours of Ronnie Wood. Harrington said: "I'm the most surprised person in Listowel."